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Volume 24 No. 156


It is perhaps "reassuring that the issues that troubled Olympic organisers 64 years ago are not so different to the concerns of the sporting public as London again prepares to stage the biggest sporting event in the world," according to Roger Blitz of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Whatever success the London Games garners, "the fact that the venues have been built in good time and within" the US$15B budget set in '07 is the "singular achievement of the organisers." Any host city "bumps up against the risks of trying to complete large-scale building projects within the immovable deadline of an Olympics -- risks that Athens well and truly failed to negotiate" in '04. The "sizeable contingency" built into the budget also "has proved prescient." The economic downturn "came too late to disrupt London 2012’s sponsorship income target" of $1.1B, much of which "was negotiated before the financial crisis began" in '07. Save for a few soccer matches, it "seems highly likely that London 2012 will be a complete sell-out." Less clear is "whether the physical legacy -- the regeneration of industrial wasteland in east London -- will prove successful." The government’s regeneration experts "have high hopes that a new residential district will emerge." More problematic are the "long-term prospects for the Olympic stadium and media centre," but organizers have "probably done enough to prevent them [from] becoming white elephants." However, whether the venues "will develop into thriving commercial ventures remains to be seen" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 5/4).   

FINISHING TOUCHES: NBC's Michelle Kosinski Thursday on "Today" discussed London's efforts to get ready for the upcoming Olympic Games. Kosinski said the big venues "are impressively -- even eye-poppingly -- constructed. Only finishing is needed.” LOCOG CEO Paul Deighton said after some of the test events, there had to be some “tweaking” to some of the venues. Deighton said, “That’s the point” of having test matches at the venues. Deighton: “It’s always interesting when you talk to (people), ‘Did you find anything wrong in the test?’ ‘Well, of course we did.’” Kosinski asked Deighton, “Do you feel like you have to top the last one or outdo Beijing?” Deighton: “Every city brings something completely different.” Kosinski added, “Even though this Games could cost $17 billion, organizers say it’s been very important that every dollars goes toward the future, whether it’s reusing these venues or simply marketing England” (“Today,” NBC, 5/3).

TOURIST DESTINATION: Bloomberg TV's Mark Crumpton noted one of the "major issues" during the Games will be transportation, as half-a-million “extra visitors are expected to arrive in the U.K. by air" and around "80% of those visitors will be landing at Heathrow." Bloomberg TV’s Louis Beale said Heathrow is building a new terminal “exclusively for London 2012’s Olympic athletes and although many haven’t even arrived yet, it’s been put up for when they leave as 65% of those coming to London for the Games will all pack up and fly home the day after" the Games are over. Beale said the terminal “is pretty big.” The terminal will “only be open for 72 hours after the Closing Ceremony," but the British Airport Authority says its "vital to help keep Heathrow moving" ("Bloomberg Bottom Line," Bloomberg TV, 5/2).